National Geographic : 2015 Nov
Number of electric cars Globally, as of January 2015 2015 743,720 2009 13,430 Electric 54 Con ven tional 99 PHOTO: SAM POLCER. SOURCE: CENTER FOR SOLAR ENERGY AND HYDROGEN RESEARCH BADENWÜRTTEMBERG TRANSPORTATION If you want to use the cleanest mode of transportation, nothing beats walking or biking, which create zero greenhouse gases beyond those produced making the bike and the food you eat. From there, it’s far more complicated. According to the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, transit buses use more energy per passengermile than cars. For long distances, you’re better off flying— carpooling in the sky—or, for the ultraprudent, taking a train. Calculations will change as the world’s fleet shifts from fossil fuels to electric. “By 2035 there will be very few conventional gasoline or diesel cars being sold,” says Dan Sperling, director of UC Davis’s Institute of Transportation Studies. Global trends toward mass urbanization make infrastructure planning easier. They also raise the likelihood that more people will take trains, bikes, or their own feet to get from A to B. TOURISM The future of tourism might look like Iceland. The country has natural advantages such as pristine water, stunning scenery, and abundant geothermal ener gy. It also boasts an earthfriendly ethos—green buildings, hydro gen buses. As the number of foreign visitors has doubled since 2010, other na tions have taken notice. India and Lebanon attract tourists with pro tected mountain ecosystems. Ca ribbean nations have moved to preserve reefs. The UN Environ ment Programme notes that money is one motiva tor. A cleaner environment is another. “If we want to cut carbon pollution fast, moving beyond oil for transportation is an obvious strategy.” Michael Brune executive director, Sierra Club Emissions per vehicle U.S. national average for a 100mile trip, pounds of CO2 You If meat were dropped from diets globally, the reduction in CO2 emissions would almost equal total U.S. annual emissions. Idle electronics, plugged in but unused, consume the equivalent output of 12 power plants. Using a power strip that you can turn on and off can save the average American home up to $200 each year.